County Durham man who attacked a puppy and five cats is banned from keeping pets for life

A man who admitted attacking a puppy and five cats has received a suspended prison sentence and has been banned from keeping animals for the rest of his life.

Dominic Jackson, from Stanley, pleaded guilty to inflicting blunt force trauma and physical violence on his pets after he was prosecuted by the RSPCA following reports that he had been seen kicking cats. Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard how inspectors from the charity had visited Jackson’s home on January 28 this year to find a number of animals – some of which were underweight – living in poor conditions.

In her evidence, inspector Rowena Proctor, who attended the property with her colleague Heidi Cleaver, said: “The living room smelled strongly of cat urine and was unclean throughout with very dirty litter trays. Several of the cats appeared to be very underweight with ribs and pelvis felt with ease. One cat in particular was of major concern.

“I spotted her lying on the top of a corner unit which was around 7.5 feet (2.2 metres) tall and she appeared to be deceased. I was eventually able to reach up far enough to get hold of the cat who thankfully was still alive but appeared weak and lethargic.

“Her name was Missy and she was the skinniest of all of the cats. Our concerns relating to the animal’s weights were explained and following discussion with myself and inspector Cleaver, all cats were put into carriers and removed from the property.”

The animals – five cats called Missy, Toby, Tabby, Felix and Simba, and a crested gecko called Bumblebee – were taken straight for veterinary treatment and later seized by the police as evidence. The vet said all of the cats were suffering and four of them were too thin, although they all made good weight gains with appropriate care in the weeks that followed.

Veterinary notes seen by the RSPCA during the investigation revealed how other pets previously belonging to Jackson – a guinea pig; a ferret; three cats called Tibby, BamBam and Bambi; a black terrier type puppy called Lulu and one unknown species of animal – had also sustained injuries or died without explanation or veterinary intervention.

Tibby was found to have sustained a broken back leg after reportedly falling off the bed when alone in the bedroom with Jackson and died. A ferret called Maggie and a guinea pig were said to have been found dead in their cages by the defendant, who claimed other cats had fallen down the stairs or been found dead behind the sofa. Lulu had suffered a head trauma but has since been rehomed by the RSPCA.

The court heard how Jackson had admitted punching Toby with a closed fist after he’d eaten another cat’s food, resulting in the cat having to have his eye removed. He also said he had slapped Missy and Felix, but could offer no explanation as to why other animals had unexpectedly got injured or died.

Another vet who gave evidence as part of the case, said none of the animals were reported to have sustained accidental injuries such as road traffic accidents or falling from a significant height.

“In my opinion, Missy, Toby, Felix, Simba and Tabby have all been caused to suffer as a consequence of physical abuse,” he said. “Suffering will have been experienced by these animals via mechanisms of fear, distress and pain for variable periods of time.

“In my opinion it is highly likely that the dog made known as Lulu was also caused to suffer as a consequence of physical abuse, although the details of the circumstances surrounding the injuries to this dog are not sufficient to draw this conclusion with surety.”

Most of the animals removed from the property on January 28 were signed over to the RSPCA during the course of the investigation and have since been rehomed by the charity. A deprivation order made by the court will ensure any that still remain – or have been brought since – must be handed over and will be rehomed.

Jackson, 26, of Cotswold Terrace in Stanley, was given eight weeks custody, suspended for two years, on each of the three offences to run concurrently. He was also given a lifetime disqualified order on keeping animals and told to pay £360 in costs and a victim surcharge of £154.